Council rebuffs claims over consultancy contracts [Otago Daily Times, 26/01/21]

Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Mike Theelen is rejecting claims the council acted inappropriately by awarding a series of consultancy contracts to two former senior staff members.

A media outlet alleges the council breached its procurement rules when it awarded Arrowtown consultancy firm ZQN.7 Ltd contracts worth a total of $630,000 without putting them out to public tender.

The company is owned by former senior council staff member Ruth Stokes and her husband, and at the time it did the work, employed another former council manager, Jendi Paterson.

The work, carried out between March 2018 and May last year, consisted of reviews of three council bylaws as well as projects relating to school safety engagement, bus stops policy and waste transfer stations.

In an article on Friday, the media outlet claimed the council did not produce an approved procurement plan for the work, did not follow its own policies by failing to offer the work in a bid process, and did not formally establish its own staff could not do the work.

Mr Theelen said yesterday the council had already acknowledged breaching its policies in relation to one of the contracts.

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